Andrew Hannah

Portrait of Andrew Hannah

Senior Associate University Registrar, University of Chicago

42 years ago I came to Chicago, fresh out of grad school,  as an unemployed house-guest of my older sister, who was a Dean of Students at the University of Chicago.  Through her encouragement I was offered two jobs at the school . . . to either run the systems in the University Medical Center that tracked all their lab rats and mice, or to be the Assistant Registrar for the University.  When I expressed ambivalence to my sister about which job to accept, she smacked me upside the head and said “You want to be a Registrar, fool!”  And I’ve been one ever since.    

Looking back, I can divide my career at Chicago into two parts . . . the first 20 years supporting the Registrar who’d hired me, Maxine Sullivan, in what was a nearly unique arrangement in the Registrar world, where the student system for the entire University was run out of the Registrar’s Office—the mainframe, software, printers, programmers, tech support—all reporting to the Registrar and were physically located in her office, with little if any involvement from central IT.  It allowed us the freedom to experiment with cutting edge technology--we did registration via the web just five years after the web was first rolled out.  We were the first clients for Scrip-Safe, as the idea for secure paper transcripts originated with Maxine.  Along with the Registrar’s from the Big Ten we founded the AAU Registrar’s Group.  Y2K was a non-event for us, where other schools spent tens of millions to accommodate, we were so ahead of the game it didn’t cost our office a dime.

During the second two decades, following Maxine Sullivan’s retirement (at age 78!), I’ve worked for several Registrar’s, and been Acting Registrar in between.  I’ve been an active AACRAO volunteer all those years, presenting two or three sessions at every annual meeting and AACRAO-Tech,  being on N and E, writing for C and U, member and chair of PAC’s for any number of years, and recently sitting on the Awards Committee.  Serving the profession, not only the school, we put into production the first use of the XML transcript schema, we also developed with Penn State, the Clearinghouse,  and what is now Parchment the secured .pdf transcript model that almost all AACRAO members now use.  We implemented the technically sophisticated but woefully under-marketed MATRIX student system, and for the last 12 years under Scott Campbell’s leadership we’ve pushed the envelope with PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, expanding upon that system’s bolt-on web UI’s, data warehouse, and milestone-tracking for Ph.D. students, now integrating an innovative third-party degree-audit tool.  We’ve learned all about Tableau as we convert our traditional routine student statistics for IPEDS.  Central IT is no longer a stranger . . . we welcome their support and we believe they’ve learned to welcome ours in return. 

Yet we’ve never been more important, and appreciated, than during the last three years, with every member of the staff of the Registrar’s Office stepping up to the max to support the University as it responded to the COVID pandemic.  Scott and his team have kept the whole place running. 

Having no intention of hanging on until my late ‘70’s as Maxine Sullivan did—my retirement plans are already extensive:  to rebuild/restore a Victorian-era house in the Shenandoah Valley; to visit the final resting places of the ten U.S. Presidents I haven’t yet seen, to cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, take a narrow-boat holiday on the canals of Wales and Scotland, and if I win the lottery, to fix up an old diesel trawler and pilot the Great Loop around the Eastern United States and Canada.  All the while, of course, I’ll be on-line googling unique restaurants and shows, writing extensive emails, and following the fortunes of AACRAO, as, in deference to Sam Walter Foss and Ernie Harwell, I “sit in my house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.”